There are more gay and lesbian characters on TV than ever — but there is still work to be done.
GLAAD released their annual “Where We Are on TV” report and a record number of gay, lesbian, bi, trans, and queer characters were on the small screen in 2017.
The report, in its 22nd year, found that out of 901 regular characters on broadcast television, 58 regular and 28 recurring characters identified as LGBTQ. At 6.4%, that’s a record high, up from 4.8% last year.
On cable, LGBTQ regular and recurring characters reached 173, up from 92 in last year’s report. And on the streaming side, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix increased their LGBTQ rep by 5 characters — from 65 to 70 this year.
Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp play the first gay couple to appear on “Star Trek” in the new “Discover” series on CBS All Access.
There was also a 1% increase in trans representation and for the first time, the report was able to include recurring characters who identify as nonbinary and asexual.
“While these identities have been depicted on screen before, those characters were often relegated to one-off episodes, which did not allow for nuanced exploration,” said GLAAD president-CEO Sarah Ellis in the report.
However positive these gains, the report says that there are still improvements to be made. Most LGBTQ characters are only supporting characters, with Ellis noting just three shows with leading queer characters — “Will and Grace,” “How to Get Away with Murder” and the upcoming CBS show “Instinct” starring Alan Cumming — in her statement.
With regard to diversity, queer characters of color fell 6% on broadcast, increased 10% on cable, and decreased 6% on streaming services. Most LGBTQ characters on television remain white and male.
On ABC’s “How to Get Away with Murder,” Viola Davis plays the openly bisexual Annalise Keating.
“It’s long past time for television to introduce more diverse LGBTQ characters on multiple level, Ellis said, “more queer people of color (who have long been and remain underrepresented), characters living with disabilities, stories of lesbians and bisexual women, trans characters, characters of various religious backgrounds, and characters who are shaped by existing at the intersection of multiple marginalized identities.”